Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit

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Didn’t the Cold War end? Not sure why we have terrorists Russians to deal with, although it does make for a fun villain played by Kenneth Branagh (who also directed).

The Tom Clancy books have been made into a handful of films with the Jack Ryan character. The first was in 1990 (The Hunt for Red October), the last was in 2002 (The Sum of All Fears). This is the first that’s not based on a novel, just the same characters.

It’s weird that Chris Pine is called in for the reboot of the Jack Ryan character. He’s Captain Kirk in the Star Trek reboots. Pine brings a boyish enthusiasm to the role that’s perfect, it’s just that the screenwriters have characters that aren’t all that interesting and don’t have much depth to them.

Since we’ve had so many James Bond movies, and now we have Jason Bourne (even without Matt Damon), and occasionally new John McClane pictures…perhaps I’m a bit burned out by these espionage thrillers.

That doesn’t mean I was bored watching it. The cinematography is fine, and who doesn’t like watching a motorcycle chasing after the bad guy in a van?

Keira Knightley is stunning on screen, although I’m not sure I buy her reluctance to marry Jack Ryan. I’m also not sure I buy this goofy side story where she thinks he’s having an affair, since he always mysteriously takes vacations without her, and sees Bette Davis movies without her. Not sure why when she brings up wanting to see an old movie at the theatres (she found a ticket stub in his pants), how his brilliant mind isn’t smart enough to realize she must know about the movie and fess up. Instead he looks away, and brings up other movies he’d rather see. Come on! No adult that’s been in relationships and has an IQ over 100 acts this way. It’s poor screenwriting.

jack ryan

Chris, I have a mission for you. You’re going to reboot the Bull Durham character next.

Kevin Costner plays the CIA recruiter and he’s fine in the part. It’s fun that he played the Russian in No Way Out, and here he’s trying to stop the Ruskies; also interesting to note, that he turned down the part of Jack Ryan at one point in his career.

There were a handful of flaws in the logic when it came to this movie, and that’s always disappointing. Just as I didn’t like the flaws with the science in Gravity (and I’m not even a science buff), I shouldn’t know enough to realize that Ryan’s girlfriend wouldn’t be in some of the CIA meetings she was present for.

This film is formulaic, and the fun action sequences don’t make up for the times the movie insults your intelligence. I wish Branagh would’ve brought some style to this movie, instead of just spy film clichés.

I’m fine waiting another 12 years for the next one.

This gets 2 stars out of 5.


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